Manchester by the Sea tells us the story of an American janitor as he struggles with his inner demons. These demons, which I won’t reveal to keep this review spoiler-free, are highly related to his past in Manchester-by-the-Sea, a small coastal town in Massachusetts, USA.
This is a very somber film, a film which is designed to keep the spectator in a state of melancholia, while also admiring the film itself. In that sense, Kenneth Lonergan does a great job. The photography, soundtrack and the editing help set the mood but all this would have been in vain if not for the acting of Casey Affleck, who carries this film and acts as a conduit between the film and us, the spectators. I have no doubt that, without such a strong performance, this film would not have been nearly as good as it is.
Of course, both Michelle Williams (acting as the protagonist’s ex-wife) and Lucas Hedges (his nephew), also have an important part in this movie and their performances should be acknowledged. Hedges, in particular, for his age and for acting as a comic relief character of an otherwise dark film.
Overall, I think this is a very good film. Far from perfection but still pretty much worthy of an Oscar nomination for best picture. It’s powerful and memorable and could easily be Affleck’s best performance yet. A must-see.